COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It was not pretty, but Clemson found a way to get a win on the road Saturday night in College Station, Texas.
The Tigers held off Texas A&M at Kyle Field with a 28-26 victory. K’Von Wallace intercepted Kellen Mond’s attempt at tying the game with a two-point conversion to seal the win.
Clemson improved 2-0 with the victory.
Here is how the Tigers graded.
Quarterback: Kelly Bryant showed a lot of poise and moxie in how he played in the second half. Bryant’s experience played a big role in why the Tigers won the game. Following a Texas A&M turnover in the third quarter, he found Tee Higgins down the sideline for a 50-yard gain. A few plays later he found Diondre Overton for an 8-yard touchdown. He also found Hunter Renfrow for a 40-yard gain, which set up Travis Etienne’s one-yard touchdown. Bryant finished the game 12-of-17 for 205 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 54 yards and another touchdown. Trevor Lawrence threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Higgins on his first pass, which came off what was a run-pass-option. The freshman struggled with a couple of reads on the zone-read in the running game. Lawrence finished the day 5-for-9 for 93 yards to go with his touchdown pass to Higgins. Grade: A
Running back: Once Clemson got the running game going in the second quarter, the Aggies made an concerted effort not to let Travis Etienne beat them. Texas A&M started blitzing and bringing pressure on almost every play. Etienne rushed for 44 yards on eight carries, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Adam Choice rushed for 27 yards on three carries. Clemson finished with 115 yards on 32 carries as a team. They did a nice job in pass protecting as well, picking up the pressures and giving Bryant and Lawrence that extra time to throw the ball. Grade B
Wide receivers/tight ends: Higgins introduced himself to the rest of college football on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 208-pound receiver caught three passes for 123 yards. He caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence in which he went up, grabbed the ball, spun off two defenders and then outran them to the end zone. He also hauled in a 50-yard catch from Bryant on a ball that he went up and high-pointed the football. Amari Rodgers continues to make big plays. His 64-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter got the Clemson offense going. Hunter Renfrow had a 40-yard catch to set up a Clemson score in the third quarter. Grade A
Offensive line: Clemson allowed just one sack, which was impressive considering the amount of pressure the Aggies were bringing. The one sack allowed came on the opening drive of the game. Center Justin Falcinelli missed on a couple of blocks and was charged with the sack. Clemson averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, but again, they were blocking sometimes six guys at a time. Grade: B
Defensive line: Clelin Ferrell was an absolute beast. He finished the game with three tackles, all behind the line of scrimmage and two of them were sacks. He also forced a fumble and had three quarterback pressures. Austin Bryant also played well. He had 3.5 tackles, broke up two passes, pressured the quarterback and had two tackles for loss. Christian Wilkins had four tackles, including one for a loss, while Dexter Lawrence had two tackles. Sophomore Justin Foster also had a sack and recovered a fumble. Three of Clemson’s four sacks were credited to the defensive line, while seven of the team’s 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage came from the defensive front. Grade: A
Linebackers: Isaiah Simmons finished the game with eight tackles and he broke up two passes. However, he also had a couple of blown assignments. Kendall Joseph finished with six tackles, including a sack. He also broke up one pass. Tre Lamar had just four tackles and got caught in the wash a little bit in the screen game, as did a others, as A&M used screens to the running backs and tight ends to counter Clemson’s strong pass rush. Grade: B
Secondary: It was not a good day for the Clemson secondary. Though safety K’Von Wallace made the two plays—his interception on the game tying two-point attempt and his forced fumble at the goal line on another play—that ultimately won the game for the Tigers, the secondary as a whole did not have a good game. Wallace, for all the good he did, he also dropped four potential interceptions. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond completed 23-of-40 passes for 430 yards and threw three touchdown passes. At times, wide receivers were running wide open across the middle of the field. Now, A&M’s receivers also played above their heads at times and made incredible plays and deserve credit. Grade: C
Special teams: Will Spiers averaged 40.1 yards on eight punts, including three punts that were downed inside the15-yard line. In a game of field position that was huge for the Tigers. However, his last punt did not travel far as it gave the Aggies a short field, which led to a touchdown with 46 seconds to play. B.T. Potter had three of his five kickoffs go into the end zone for touchbacks. Rodgers had one punt return for nine yards. Grade: B+